Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Sputtering and detection of large organic molecules from Europa

Sputtering and detection of large organic molecules from Europa 
Johnson et al 
Mass spectroscopy of bio-molecules by heavy ion induced sputtering, which became a practical laboratory procedure, was also suggested as a potential tool for spacecraft studies of targets of interest in astrobiology. With the planning of new missions to Europa, there is renewed interest in the possibility of detecting organic molecules that might have originated in its subsurface ocean and can be sputtered from its surface often intact by impacting energetic heavy ions trapped in Jupiter's magnetosphere. Here we review the laboratory data and modeling bearing on this issue. We then give estimates of the ejection into the gas-phase of trace organic species embedded in an ice matrix on Europa's surface and their possible detection during a flyby mission.

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